Cyber bullying is when someone bullies others using electronic media, this includes email, social media, messaging services through the internet, or accessed via mobile phones, tablets or gaming platforms. The bullies’ behaviour is and sometimes persistent.
All forms of bullying including cyberbullying are awful for the children and young people involved and equally difficult for them to know how to express their feelings so they can talk about what’s been happening.
Cyberbullying can happen via text, email and on social networks and gaming platforms. It can consist of:
- Rejection and exclusion
- Threats and intimidation
- Harassment and stalking
- Extortion and Blackmail
- Identify theft – through hacking into social media accounts and impersonation
- Content can go viral within seconds
- Regularly the bully has no case to answer as he can’t be found or traced
- Publicly posting or sending on personal information about another person to publicly shame or embarrass them
Cyberbullying facts and statistics
Reported cyberbullying statistics vary considerably.
A study by the Department for Education in 2015 found that 11% of 15-16 year old had experienced cyberbullying (15% amongst girls and 7% amongst boys)
A global YouGov study in the same year found that one in five 13-18 year-olds had experienced it and believed it was worse than face to face bullying
This recent research carried out by Internet Matters shows that 62% of parents are concerned about cyberbullying and one in 10 are aware that their child has been involved in a cyberbullying incident.
The fact is the more time children and young people spend online the more chance they’ll have of having a negative experience at some point. About half of all cyberbullying comes from someone known to the victim.
Why is cyberbullying different?
One of the biggest differences between cyberbullying and face-to-face bullying is that it can be hard to get away from. Young people could be bullied anywhere, anytime – even when they’re at home.
- It can reach a vast audience in a matter of seconds
- It has the potential to draw in large numbers of people
- It takes ‘repetition’ to a different level, with hurtful comments and images being shared multiple times
- It has the potential to impact at any time of day or night
- It can offer a degree of anonymity to the perpetrator
- There are very few children that have not been impacted in some way, either as the perpetrator or the victim
- It’s difficult to police and to punish
- There is often some form of evidence (e.g. screen shot, text message).
The best way to keep your child safe online is to take an active interest right from the start. They need your love and protection online as much as they do in the real world. What your child is exposed to will depend on how they’re using the internet – social network users are more likely to experience cyberbullying, see sexual or violent images, or have contact with strangers.
The earlier you can talk to your child about making positive choices online, the better. Here are some conversation starters:
What do they want to be online?
The choices we make online say something about who we. Talk to your child about how the things they do online paint a picture of themselves, so they shouldn’t post things without thinking about it.
How much should they share about themselves?
Talk to your child about the risks of sharing, identifying where they live or go to school, and what people online might do with that information. Talk about what the risks might be of sharing personal thoughts and feelings.
How much time should they spend online?
Talk about the possible impact of spending too much time online and agree sensible ‘bed-times’ and breaks during the day. Create opportunities as a family to get ‘off-line’ and have fun together.
Cyberbullying terms used by young people
Catfishing – stealing someone’s profile or setting up fake profiles to lure people into starting online relationships
Cyberstalking – sending repeated and frequent messages that include real threats of physical harm
Dissing – sending or posting information that’s intended to damage someone’s reputation
Exclision – deliberately excluding someone from online conversations, games and activities
Griefing – abusing and angering people through online gaming
Roasting – ganging up on an individual online and sending offensive abuse until the victim is seen to ‘crack’
Outing – publicly sharing personal, private or embarrassing information, photos or videos about someone online
Flaming -sending angry, abusive online messages to intentionally provoke someone into starting an argument
Harassment – targeting an individual or group with persistent and offensive messages which could develop into cyberstalking
Trolling – deliberately posting provocative and insulting messages about sensitive subjects or inflicting racism or misogyny on an individual
Fraping – logging into someone else’s account, impersonating them or posting inappropriate content in their name
Masquerading – creating a fake identity or impersonating someone else online to harass an individual anonymously
Set up safely
As a parent you have some decisions to make about how you want your child to engage online and on social media and what measures you want to put in place to help protect them from unwanted visitors:
Set up their device
Whatever device you choose, there are free controls you can use to stop your child from purchasing and using certain apps, seeing certain content, or limiting what they can share with others, like their location for example. Our interactive guide to setting parental controls covers the most popular range of devices and services children use.
Getting the low down on sites, games and apps
You will probably use social networks yourself, but you might want to know about new ones that your child is using, or wants to use. Use them yourself and set up your own account so you can experience what your child might see. There are also a number of child-friendly social networks they could use while they get ready for the likes of Snapchat and Instagram.
Spend time together looking at the privacy settings. It’s always best to assume that default settings are public and should be changed accordingly. We’ve got some advice on using privacy settings on the most popular social apps.
A good profile
Use their nickname and a profile picture of their pet or favourite band, rather than themselves, and encourage them to only be friends with people they know in real life. Avoid sharing personal information like school, age and place they live.